This Post offers an analysis of a 59-page study funded by the Port of Portland, to investigate the potential and feasibility to sell unleaded aviation fuel at the Hillsboro Airport [KHIO]. It includes some background on the leaded fuel issue, followed by a look at (and critique of) the KB ‘Mogas’ Study.
The Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, and included guidance for the removal of toxic lead from transportation fuels. It took more than two decades for EPA to completely phase out lead in automotive fuel, as was accomplished in 1996. But, although there are far fewer aircraft and fueling locations (and thus the change for aviation should have been faster and easier to accomplish), it has now been 45-years, yet lead remains in the most commonly used General Aviation (GA) fuel: 100LL, commonly called Avgas.
Many aircraft have been modified to safely use unleaded fuel, commonly called Mogas. The problem, though, is that while mogas is widely available from wholesalers, very few airports have invested in the above-ground storage tanks and/or fuel trucks needed to offer this less hazardous fuel choice. Thus, even busy GA airports do not offer mogas. Such is the case today at the Hillsboro Airport [KHIO], west of Portland, OR.
For the past few years, lead has been a focused issue at the Hillsboro Airport. The airport is owned/operated by the Port of Portland (PoP). It is common throughout the U.S. for airport authorities to appoint citizen groups, which ostensibly assures the community is involved in airport impact decisions. In reality, though, PoP and other airport authorities tend to stack the membership of these groups so as to assure they vote favorably for the airport uses (and against the airport neighbors). At Hillsboro, PoP created the Hillsboro Airport Roundtable Exchange (HARE). Many airport neighbors feel that HARE is strongly aligned with the aviation interests at KHIO, particularly Hillsboro Aviation.
The KB ‘Mogas’ Study’s Summary:
At some point in the recent past, the Port of Portland hired a consultant to prepare a study related to the KHIO avgas/mogas issue. They hired KB Environmental Sciences, based in Tampa Bay, FL (and with offices in Washington, DC and Seattle) to do a study. KB is one of a handful of companies who make lots of money doing studies that are use by the aviation status quo to sustain practices and delay change. KB’s 59-page report was completed last December, and just recently made public. Here is the bullet list from the Executive Summary page: